One thing that I have come to value and understand at a deeper level because of [the IThink] practicum, is collaboration. There have been times when we had to work on our own and most of us realized as the months unfolded that silos are pretty useless. Our thinking is better when the experiences, deep thinking and reflections are shared. —Heidi Siwak, Ontario Educator
I am your teacher. You are my students.
I dislike these roles. They act to separate, isolate, and compartmentalize us. And everyone acts as if this is the way it should be.
I want us to have a different experience. I want us to feel the rush of each other’s insights and the weight of our collective thinking as we work together to first learn and then reflect on our newly acquired perspectives.
Imagine the possibilities!
As I create/construct/write this post, I am conscious that I do so in the present tense even though the semester and our time together is drawing to a close. I don’t want this reflection to be an end though. I want it to be a beginning…a beginning for all of us to consider what collaboration means and what we need to do differently the next time we are in a learning environment (which for some of us may be all the time and everywhere) to move towards working together to do the learning that we could not possibly do alone.
This semester I created opportunities for collaboration by:
- organizing seating in groups
- encouraging you to share your thinking with each other
- building in a peer review component for all writing/creating
- using the question formulation technique to help us generate relevant and meaningful questions
- having teachers model what small group discussion and collaboration can look like
- bringing outside voices in like Mr. Chris Baird
- doing the work with you like the poetry anthology and the re-framed blog
- providing many exemplars of learning
- holding a class read aloud of a common text
- conferencing with you
- blending our learning especially in Google Docs, but also with Mindomo
- encouraging self-direction and reflection
- building in metacognition
And yet, my voice dominated the space.
I don’t want to learn alone. I want to learn with you because your ideas, your questions, your challenges, your a-ha moments will not be the same as mine, and they will teach me.
Take a moment to reflect with me. What else do we need to do or to know that will move us along the collaboration continuum? What other types of support or strategies might you need to build your collaboration skills?